Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Nissan Note: Test Drive Review
Cookies on Businesscar

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Business Car website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookies at any time

BusinessCar magazine website email Awards mobile

The start point for the best source of fleet information

Nissan Note: Test Drive Review

Date: 16 October 2013   |   Author: Nat Barnes

Category: Supermini
P11D price: £16,095
Key rival: Ford Fiesta
On sale: October 2013

When it comes to superminis, there's little question that with an average owner age of 60 since it arrived in showrooms in 2005, Nissan's Note has never exactly enjoyed the coolest image.

The company is hoping to change all that with this new model, though, aiming to lure younger customers in with a sharper design and packing it with new technology.

Certainly for price-banded user choosers and those after small cars for lots of short journeys, such as local authorities, the figures look competitive. Both the 1.2-litre petrol and 1.5-litre turbodiesel fall into the 13% benefit-in-kind tax bracket, with the forthcoming supercharged petrol in the 11% band when it arrives early next year. The turbodiesel also returns 78.5mpg on the combined cycle with just 92g/km CO2 emissions.

Although the 1.2-litre three-cylinder petrol is likely to be the best-seller, accounting for more than 40% of all Notes leaving showrooms, its 80hp and lack of pace (0 to 62mph in 13.7 seconds, 105mph top speed) really show out on the road. Nissan claims an official 60.1mpg, but in reality the engine needs to be worked hard to get the best from it. We managed a disappointing 45mpg, although that included only a brief motorway stint.

The turbodiesel, on the other hand, is a far better option. With a 0-62mph time of 11.9 seconds and almost double the amount of grunt of the 1.2 petrol, it's definitely the choice of these initial two powerplants.

Even using the aircon, we still managed 65.9mpg during our run without adopting any specific economy-driving tricks, so the official 78.5mpg wouldn't be out of reach with a little effort. An Eco button between the front seats reduces the boost level on the turbo, but in our experience it made little to no difference.

If Nissan was aiming for the same customers as before then we'd leave it there, but with its new hopes you have to feel disappointed with the driving experience. The steering is lifeless, the gearchange notchy at times and there's no sense of driver involvement that you'd get in a Fiesta, Polo or 208. At this level, too, we expect reach as well as height adjustment on the steering wheel - taller drivers might find the driving position a little awkward.

That said, there's no questioning the Note's practicality. While some of the plastics could be improved, there are twin gloveboxes up front a split-level boot (although no spare wheel) and a huge amount of space for rear passengers. Nissan also claims an incredible total 2012-litre boot space with the back seats down.

Then there's the tech. Blind-spot monitoring and lane-departure warning aren't common at this level and there's also a Moving Object Detection system plus 360º parking, which combines the usual front and rear cameras with ones mounted in the door mirrors to provide a bird's eye view all-round the car on the dash-mounted screen. It may sound gimmicky, but it works surprisingly well, although it's a £400 option on all bar the flagship Tekna trim.

With Nissan predicting RV levels on a par with the Ford Fiesta and a £11,900 starting price, the new Note certainly has a lot of promise, especially for those after a small car with maximum practicality. But convincing  younger customers or ones after a more involving drive might be a tougher task.

Nissan Note 1.5dCi Acenta Premium
P11D price: £16,150 (OTR)
Model price range: £11,900-£17,750
Fuel consumption: 78.5mpg
CO2 (tax): 92g/km (13%)
Service interval: 12,500mls/ 12 mths
Warranty: 3yrs/ 60,000mls
Boot space min/max: 195/2012 litres
Engine size/ power:   1461cc/ 90bhp
Top speed/ 0-62mph: 111mph/ 11.9 sec


Much improved, but not a sector leader.